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Jan. 31, 2002

Box Score | Video Highlights and Postgame Comments

AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Juan Dixon said the impetus for No. 3 Maryland’s stunning comeback victory against No. 8 Virginia came at the least likely time – when the Cavaliers thought they had the game won.

Just over six minutes remained, and with Virginia having taken a 74-70 lead, Maryland coach Gary Williams called a timeout, the crowd whipping into a frenzy as the Cavaliers triumphantly headed for the bench.

But Keith Jenifer and Travis Watson of Virginia stopped on their way to say something to Williams, leaving him incensed and his team determined.

“They thought they had the win,” Dixon said of Jenifer and Watson, “so I guess they wanted to show off a little bit. We wanted to protect our coach and we allowed that to motivate us and took it from there.”

The Terrapins fell even further behind, trailing 83-74 with 3:22 left, but scored 13 of the last 15 points, finally taking the lead on Dixon’s running one-hander with 31 seconds left, and getting a 91-87 victory.

The game marked only the second time in 156 meetings that both teams came into the game ranked in the Top Ten, and both played like it.

Virginia took its big lead by scoring seven straight points, but Drew Nicholas hit his only two field goals of the game, both 3-pointers, and the Terrapins went 4-for-5 from the line at the end to clinch it.

Maryland finished 25-for-26 from the line, the only miss coming in the final seconds, while Virginia had seven costly misses in 19 tries from the line in the second half, repeatedly failing to build its lead.

“It was a game we had an opportunity to win,” coach Pete Gillen said after Virginia’s second straight loss. “We just didn’t close the deal.”

Neither team led by more than seven points in the second half until Virginia took its big lead, but Nicholas’ two huge shots gave them life and the veteran Dixon took over with the outcome still to be decided.

“We easily could have let that game go, just gave up,” said Nicholas, whose second 3 was from about 25 feet and pulled the Terrapins to 87-86 with 1:20 left. “The shot presented itself and I knocked it down.”

Byron Mouton led Maryland (17-3, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 21 points, Dixon had 16 and Lonny Baxter added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Steve Blake and Tahj Holden each scored 10 points for the Terrapins.

Roger Mason Jr. had 29 points for the Cavaliers (14-4, 4-4), while Watson had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Williams added 13 points, but he missed four free throws and Watson missed three in the second half.

The Cavaliers also played not to lose, said Jason Clark.

With his team trailing 83-74, Dixon made two free throws and Chris Wilcox had a dunk off a turnover for Maryland. Williams hit a tough layup and was fouled, further whipping the crowd up, but Williams missed the free throw, and Nicholas hit his first 3-pointer to make it 85-81.

“We had on our board that we wanted to shut the crowd up, and we actually did it,” Dixon said. “It was intense out there tonight.”

The teams exchanged pairs of free throws before Nicholas hit his second 3, and Dixon followed by driving around the Cavaliers’ defense into the corner, then hitting the baseline shot to give Maryland the lead.

Watson then had a chance to give the lead back to Virginia, but he missed his shot from in close, grabbed the rebound and was stripped of the ball before he got off another one, and it was going the other way.

Two free throws by Holden and one by Mouton finished the scoring.

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